Shake It Up, Baby

Stephen Headrick

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

When a lot of anglers think of wintertime fishing, they think there are just a very few ways you can catch bass. But that's not exactly true. I really enjoy winter fishing because there are several great ways to catch bass, and when you've found one bass, you've likely found a bunch of them.

This week I want to share a technique with you that's really been strong lately for me and some of my fishing buddies. The odds are good that you've tried it yourself. Maybe you've had some success with it, or maybe you've struggled. But if you'll follow these tips, I think you'll catch more smallmouths.

The technique is shaky head fishing. It's not really anything new. Anglers have been doing it for a decade or more — especially in the spotted bass waters around Alabama and Georgia. It works great on largemouths and smallmouths, too.

My way of fishing a shaky head isn't a lot different from the way a lot of other guys do it, but there are just enough differences that I think are important, and I want to share them with you.

Let's start with my tackle. I use a 6-foot, 9-inch All Pro spinning rod and 6-pound-test Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon line spooled onto a Shimano Stradic 2500 reel. Nothing special there, but the one thing that I do that you might want to do, too, has to do with filling my reel with line. When I'm using fluorocarbon, I only fill my spools about 1/2 to 3/4 full. If I get them any fuller, the line has a tendency to spring off and cause all kinds of loops and tangles. By filling less of the spool — but using a bigger than normal reel — I get all the line I need and it behaves much better.

My lure is a 1/4-ounce Punisher Small Jaw Shaky Jig in the camo color. Most shaky heads are bare lead-head jigs, but this one has a skirt that gives it more action. The head is shaped like a peanut, with a narrow spot in the middle of the lead. It actually wobbles as it falls. My favorite plastic bait to put on the rig is a Zoom Tiny Chunk in avocado or green pumpkin red. This little bait is dynamite and provides a lot of action.

I like to use the Shaky Jig when I'm targeting cover like brush and stumps. If the bass are in open water and chasing shad, I might use a float and fly. If they're around rock, I'll try my school bus yellow hair jig. But when they're in brushy cover, I like the Shaky Jig. It's got a light weed guard that's just right for light tackle.

I'll cast my Shaky Jig right into the middle of the cover in 10 to 25 feet of water and get over the top of it as much as possible. Once it touches bottom in the brush, I start to shake it — hard.

I shake the life out of that little bait. If you were to see me on the water, you'd think I had hung it up and was trying to pull it loose!

The key to shaking it like this without pulling it completely out of the cover is to do it on a semi-slack line. If you're line's too tight, you pull the bait away. If it's too loose, you won't give it any action at all. Experiment until you get it just right.

Now here's the next thing I do differently from a lot of other anglers. I use the Shaky Jig as an attractor. Maybe the bass will eat it up — a lot of times they do — but sometimes that Shaky Jig is just the ticket to get them stirred up and ready to eat something else, like that yellow jig, a crankbait or another bait.

Give the Shaky Jig a try, and see if it works for you.

It'll make you a better smallmouth angler.

Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me atStephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.

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